And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” – Luke 2:8-15
I suppose it was a night like any other. Nothing special. There was no special Christmas spirit filling the air, perhaps even no sense of anticipation. It was night like any and every other. These Shepherds were doing what they do every night and every day – watching their sheep. It’s what they do.
And then, out of no-where, an angel appears – and with this angel we are told the very glory of God shone round about them. This is the Shekinah glory that we read about in the Old Testament. Back in 2 Chronicles 7 it was this awe-inspiring glory that filled the temple and prohibited even the priests from entering in. These Shepherds were lowly men, sinful creatures who were seeing God’s glory in a way few men ever have. Of course they were filled with great fear. Place your feet in the shoes of Isaiah as he approached the throne room of God and immediately proclaimed woe upon himself and begged to be cleansed. They had every reason to fear because these sinful creatures deserved punishment.
And with that, they were gone. As quick as they came, the angels left. Immediately these shepherds realize they must find this child wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manger. I find it interesting that they never were flat out told by the angels to go and see the baby. It was just so obvious. How could you not after seeing what you just saw.
They found Mary and Joseph just as the angels said they would. When they see Jesus they began to tell the proud parents all that the angels told them. Apparently there were others there as well the Shepherds had to tell as well.
But I find something extremely interesting that’s not here at the manger scene. You have Jesus, the parents, the shepherds, the animals, but there’s something that’s not here that you would kind of assume based on this previous set verses that would be here. No, I’m not talking about the wise men. There’s no fear. When the shepherds found themselves in the presence of the glory of God, there was great fear. When the shepherds were in the presence of the Son of God, there was great excitement and great joy. I think this helps shed light on Hebrews 4 where we are told to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. Contrast this with Isaiah’s experience at throne of God where there is fear. What makes the difference – the high priest who passed through the heavens, who sympathizes with our weaknesses and was tempted as we are tempted. The incarnation of Christ is what bridges the divide between God and man. Jesus changes everything! The babe in the manger who was very God of very God was still just like us! Just like we previously referenced in Ephesians 5, Christ is how we stand before the Father, robed in a righteousness that is not our own, but one gained through the perfect life of Christ. Because of Jesus Romans tells us there is now therefore no condemnation!
John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
No wonder there was no fear, there was Jesus!